Ask Yo Self: Why Don’t You Want To Do The Opposite?

Wants Vs. Needs.  The bread and butter of topics like budgeting, frugality, minimalism, stoicism, happiness – the list goes on.

Some people will argue that retiring on $20,000 a year sounds terrible – a life of deprivation, penny pinching, always watching account balances and more constraint than freedom.  Others will argue that in today’s society, $20,000 a year can buy you everything you need and that the ultimate want is the time and energy to do whatever you want.

And there are plenty of people in the middle:

The Spectrum of Wants

It’s easy to argue that we all need food, shelter, love, safety, purpose…it’s when deciding how much of that is excessive that we run into trouble.  When it comes to buckling down on financial goals, wants seem to become an all or nothing topic.

While I’m a pretty strong believer that a lot of our wants are excessive, I’m a much stronger believer that either take too much time or not enough time questioning our wants.  If we’re Animals, we don’t question them at all.  If we’re Deprivers, we question them all, plus some of the needs.  But are we even asking the right question?

Usually, it goes something like “Do I want this or need this” or “Why do I want a new (insert here)”.  What about if we asked this instead:

Why don’t I want (the opposite)?

Let’s say you’re replacing something that’s not really outdated, but you’re bored with it and there’s a newer and better one on the market.  Asking yourself if you want or need it is an all or nothing game – you’ll either convince yourself that you need it, that you want it and you deserve it, that you don’t want it (but it took convincing), or that you don’t need it (also took convincing).

When you ask these types of questions, not getting what you wanted automatically becomes deprivation (you’re denying yourself something, even if it’s a good decision to say no) or even worse, failure.

There’s a good portion of what you want (and don’t want) that (getting) is probably out of your control.  But not getting what you want is still failure – you were deprived, either by yourself or things outside of your control.

But would you rather have to do something you don’t want to do or be deprived of what you do want?

When you go to replace (insert here), ask yourself “Why don’t I want to keep using the one I already have (and reaping the benefits)?”

Why don’t I want to keep my current car, phone, clothes, computer, house?

This makes the decision about reasons – which sounds pretty reasonable to me.

1 Comment

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  1. Great idea! Yeah, this line of thinking can be difficult, especially if you tend to be either too frugal (cough cheap cough) or too spendy. It’s tough learning what you genuinely NEED, but for the most part the answer should be “no, I don’t need this.”

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